The Rule of Completeness: An assist from the bench

Comm. v. Thomas, 2018 PA Super 221 (Aug. 3, 2018) Out of Philadelphia County. Thomas was convicted of first-degree murder.  Three issues were raised in this appeal, but only one was of particular note that caught my attention.  It dealt with what is referred to as the “Rule of Completeness,” which is an evidentiary concept tied up in Rule 106 … Read More

Tipsters more reliable when they provide self-incriminating details

Comm. v. Butler, 2018 PA Super 219 (Aug. 1, 2018) Out of Bucks County.  Butler was convicted of drug-related offenses, namely possession with intent to deliver (PWID).  He raised a single issue on appeal: whether the police had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative detention?  The Superior Court, like the trial court, held that there was reasonable suspicion. Essentially, the … Read More

The July Batch (so far) from the Superior Court

The Superior Court has issued seven precedential opinions this month.  Straying from my usual summaries, I intend only to provide the holdings and other pertinent points and, of course, my commentary when I believe it necessary.  This will then get this blog up to speed.  But that said, given the time involved with these posts, from here on out it’s … Read More

Withdrawal of Guilty Pleas, Double Jeopardy, and DUI Sentencing

Comm. v. Davis, 2018 PA Super 180 (June 22, 2018) Out of Lehigh County. This case is about an attempt to withdraw a guilty plea made under a plea agreement for a sentence not to exceed 38 months incarceration.  The underlying charges were for possession with intent to deliver (PWID) among other things. The appellant, Davis, appeared on the day … Read More

Confidential Informants, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and Traffic Stops (some aided by the “Find My iPhone” App)

Comm. v. Koonce, 2018 PA Super 169 (June 15, 2018) Out of Montgomery County.  Koonce was convicted following a stipulated non-jury trial of possession with intent to deliver.  Pre-trial he filed a motions to suppress evidence and to produce a confidential information used to build the case against him.  The trial court denied these motions.  He was subsequently convicted. Really … Read More

The appellate courts are busy making law . . . and I’m busy keeping up.

June has been a busy month, yet at the same time a relaxing one with a much-needed vacation. This month, the appellate courts haven’t let up.  I haven’t let up either, staying on top of the recent published decisions out of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, I just haven’t been able to write my usual blog summaries of … Read More

A Circumstantial DUI, A Case of Be-Careful-What-You-Ask-For, and the Kathleen Kane Case

Comm. v. Gooseby-Byrd, 2018 PA Super 134 (May 23, 2018) This was an appeal out of Delaware County.  This was a DUI case charged under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(2), which indicates Appellant’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) was relatively low—here, 0.88% (just over the legal limit). The facts are relatively straightforward, and this case was resolved due to a credibility determination by … Read More

Word choice is important . . . and so is a thorough review and timing.

Comm. v. Dempster, 2018 PA Super 121 (May 8, 2018) This is an appeal before an en banc panel of the Superior Court, which arose out of Delaware County.  The issue on appeal concerns the scope of the appellate court’s independent review when an attorney files an Anders brief and seeks to withdraw from a case.  Different panels of the … Read More

A “Stalking Horse”?

Appeal out of Lancaster County. This appeal involved issues of a parolee’s privacy interests under the Fourth Amendment and what is known as the “Stalking Horse Doctrine”—i.e. the idea of a probation/parole officer essentially acting in a capacity of a police officer.  The essential facts giving rise to this appeal were these. The appellant, Carl Gould, had been on parole.  … Read More